By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
VATICAN CITY — Being ordained a deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica, just a few feet away from the burial place of St. Peter, “was an incredible blessing,” Deacon John Lamansky said.
He was one of 31 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) in Rome ordained Sept. 28 to the diaconate. NAC, as the seminary is often called, includes students from the United States, Canada and Australia.
Bishop James Cheechio of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., was the celebrant. He is a former rector of NAC. In his homily, Bishop Cheechio reminded the 31 of their call to be both a shepherd and a servant. He spoke to them about the example set by Blessed Stanley Rother, the first U.S.-born priest and martyr, whose beatification took place not long before the deacon ordination. The bishop told the seminarians how Blessed Stanley Rother exemplified a life of service and “knew what it meant to be a shepherd.” As shepherds, the future priests must continue to cultivate the virtues of fortitude, patience and perseverance.
Father Thom Hennen, director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport, attended the ordination Mass. He said he got a prime spot. “It was the luck of the draw,” he laughed. Having also been ordained to the diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica, Fr. Hennen reflected on his ordination.
He has also served as a master of ceremonies and head master of ceremonies at NAC ordinations. “I know the ceremony well,” he said. “This was beautiful.”
During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their diocesan bishops. The Mass, more than two hours long, included the election of the candidates, promise of the elect, laying on of hands and prayer of ordination, vesting of the new deacons and handing on of the Book of the Gospels. “It didn’t seem that long,” Deacon Lamansky said. “I was so focused on what was happening at each moment and it was beautifully done.”
Deacon Lamansky chose to be vested by Deacon Chris Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City.
Deacon Kabat said, “I have known John and his family for about 10 years…. We have shared many great events together over the years. When he asked me to be his vesting deacon, I was in disbelief.” Deacon Kabat was ordained to the permanent diaconate in July this year.
He said the 31 new deacons “are alive with the faith, humble in their service and authentic in their ministry. There is always hope in our faith, but after witnessing the ordination of John and his friends that hope is grounded in something very tangible in what is happening at the Pontifical North American College.”
Deacon Kabat placed the stole and dalmatic on the new deacon and then the two hugged.
Fr. Hennen visits diocesan seminarians in the U.S. twice a year, and budgets a trip to visit NAC seminarians every other year.
The new deacon has been assigned an apostolate to work with people in and around Rome, he said. During previous and current school years, he has been assigned to spend one weekend a month with U.S. military families at the Navy base in Naples. Now, as a deacon, he will also preach homilies at some of the weekend Masses during in the months leading up to his ordination to the priesthood June 30 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, God willing.
On trips back home, Deacon Lamansky attends weekday Masses at St. James Church in Washington. His mom, Anne, is a member of St. Wenceslaus, and his dad, Dan, is a member of St. Mary in Fairfield.
During his ordination to the priesthood, it is anticipated that seminarian Terry Ball will ordained a deacon on his journey to the priesthood, Fr. Hennen said. The ordination is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 30 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.